Distracted by games for the win of education


Everyone knows about the potential of being distracted by games. Parents are often telling me that it is the video game they are concerned about when it comes to their children success in school. Let me tell you this: When I failed my 8th grade, most people thought that the reason was simply that I had been distracted by videogames. Although I spent much less time playing video games than doing sports, it was (and probably it still is) the common perception that playing ‘games’ is most often responsible for undesirable results in school. But now, just for a second, let’s switch perspective. Think about this: Why blame a game for being so engaging and motivating that school seems to be so damn boring in comparison to it? Shouldn’t we learn from the best and so try to fix what’s wrong with reality? Or let’s put it in a nutshell: “Don’t blame the gamer, blame the game.” And in this context, the game is called education. I would even say that a good game is education. I really believe that if I ain’t learning it ain’t fun. There is no such thing as an easy game that keeps us engaged. Games are artificial learning environments. No game without a challenge that you have to overcome. We love to be challenged. Our brain is a learning engine and it was developed for this purpose. By deconstructing games and other game-like activities like sports and hobbies and reverse-engineering what makes them successful to engage us, challenge us and keep us focused, we can find out about the most effective ways to let us unfold our full potential. In games we are always chasing our better selves. I don’t know if that is what we are really looking for in school. Frankly. So, yeah, games are more successful in earning the attention of people than our school system. But it is not because games are the devil, it is because they address better our native desires to be challenged, to learn, to overcome obstacles and to progress. And they provide us with the necessary feedback to experience the fulfillment of these desires. But I really believe that we can transfer these powerful mechanics from games into reality. Also for the benefit of our educational system. This is Roman Rackwitz and now let’s get serious about play.

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